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Replacing the Front Shocks in Your E60 BMW 5-Series
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing the Front Shocks in Your E60 BMW 5-Series

Steve Vernon

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$400 to $800

Talent:

**

Tools:

Jack, jack stands, Socket set, Allen key set, spring compressors

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

New shocks

Hot Tip:

Remove fender liner

Performance Gain:

Better handling

Complementary Modification:

Check your bushings

While it is very difficult to change out the front struts from their springs without the special spring compression tool, it is possible to save yourself a good deal of money by removing the strut assembly from the car and taking the assembly to a shop to swap them out. We made several attempts to change the struts out using four spring compressors at a time and where still not happy with the results. In the end we ended taking them to a shop that had the right tools and they swapped them out in fifteen minutes. Remember that the struts are unidirectional and you can not put the right spring on the left strut nor can you put the left strut in the right wheel well, so if you take them apart yourself make sure you label everything well.

Begin by loosening the front tires while the car is on the ground, then safely lift and support the vehicle. Please see our article on lifting and supporting your BMW. With the car safely in the air remove the front tires.

Remove the three lines (speed sensor, ABS and brake line) mounted in the bracket on the strut to steering knuckle assembly, they just slide out of the bracket. Remove the speed sensor from the steering knuckle.

Remove the two bolts holding the caliper to the steering knuckle and hang the caliper out of the way. Make sure you do not pinch or damage the lines and never let the caliper hang by the brake line.

With the caliper out of the way, remove the Allen screw holding the rotor to the steering knuckle. You may have to hit the caliper to loosen it, just make sure you hit it flush on the mount by the stud holes and never on the part of the rotor that makes contact with the pads and caliper.

Next remove the four 8mm bolts holding the dust shield to the steering knuckle and set the dust shield aside.

Remove the strut pinch bolt and the stabilizer link from the steering knuckle. With the pinch bolt removed you will need to spread the steering knuckle pinch collar. BMW makes a special tool for this but I just used a large flat hear screw driver and tapped it in the gap to separate the collar. With the collar separated slide the knuckle down on the strut tube.

Note: BMW advises removing the control arm and tension strut to facilitate getting the strut housing out of the wheel well, but I just compress the spring in the wheel well and it makes enough clearance to remove it without taking the other suspension parts off.

Move to the engine compartment and locate the top of the strut housing. There will be three 13mm bolts along with a centering pin in the housing. The centering pin is used to keep the shocks in factory alignment. If your car does not have a centering pin in the shock tower you will need to carefully mark the bolt placement so when you put everything back together you will retain the same alignment that you had before you removed everything. There is a chance when you remove the three bolts the strut will fall a little so make sure you have a hand on it when you remove the three bolts.

Move back to the wheel well, use a set of spring compressors and compress the springs and remove the assembly from the wheel well. You may have to help pry the strut tube out of the steering knuckle depending on the age of your car and the type of weather it has been driven in.

If you are going to try and separate the strut and springs yourself you will need an impact gun or BMW special tool #31 2 210 (Note: BMW recommends not using an impact tool). At this point it is best to take both assemblies to a shop and have the shop change out the struts for you. The springs are under a lot of tension and it can be quite dangerous working with them if you do not have the right tools.

Installation is the reverse of removal. You should always use new hardware when working on suspension or braking components of your car. Remember the struts are unidirectional along with the springs so make sure you don't mix them up. Also make sure the boss on the strut slides in the gap in the steering knuckle and strut seats on the bottom of the knuckle before tightening. Torque everything to specs.

You are going to be removing the caliper (green arrow), rotor (yellow arrow) and compressing the spring (red arrow).
Figure 1

You are going to be removing the caliper (green arrow), rotor (yellow arrow) and compressing the spring (red arrow).

Figure 2

Slide the wheel sensor, ABS and brake lines from their brackets (green arrows) on the steering knuckle

Remove the Wheel Speed Sensor (yellow arrow) and the two 18mm bolts holding the caliper to the knuckle (red arrows).
Figure 3

Remove the Wheel Speed Sensor (yellow arrow) and the two 18mm bolts holding the caliper to the knuckle (red arrows).

Use an Allen key and remove the securing screw holding the rotor to the hub.
Figure 4

Use an Allen key and remove the securing screw holding the rotor to the hub.

Remove the four 8mm nuts (yellow arrows) holding the dust shield on and set the dust shield aside.
Figure 5

Remove the four 8mm nuts (yellow arrows) holding the dust shield on and set the dust shield aside. Note the caliper hanging safely out of the way (red arrow).

Use and 18mm socket and remove the pinch bolt (red arrow) and a 16mm to remove the stabilizer link bolt (green arrow).
Figure 6

Use and 18mm socket and remove the pinch bolt (red arrow) and a 16mm to remove the stabilizer link bolt (green arrow). Swing the bracket out of the way.

With the pinch bolt removed you will need to separate the pinch collar (red arrow).
Figure 7

With the pinch bolt removed you will need to separate the pinch collar (red arrow). BMW makes a special tool for this but if you are careful you can just tap in a large flat head screw driver.

Working from the top of the strut housing you will see three 13mm nuts (red arrows) and a centering pin (yellow arrow).
Figure 8

Working from the top of the strut housing you will see three 13mm nuts (red arrows) and a centering pin (yellow arrow). The centering pin is used to keep the shocks in factory alignment. If your car does not have a centering pin in the shock tower you will need to carefully mark the bolt placement so when you put everything back together you will retain the same alignment that you had before you removed everything. There is a chance when you remove the three bolts the strut will fall a little so make sure you have a hand on it and remove the three bolts.

Compressing the springs while the strut is in the car allows you to remove the strut without having to remove other suspension components.
Figure 9

Compressing the springs while the strut is in the car allows you to remove the strut without having to remove other suspension components. It doesn't hurt to put a little tape around your fender lips to protect against accidentally marring the paint while working.

Here is the strut assembly out of the car.
Figure 10

Here is the strut assembly out of the car.

The upper strut nut (green arrow) is recessed and BMW recommends you do not use an impact tool to remove it.
Figure 11

The upper strut nut (green arrow) is recessed and BMW recommends you do not use an impact tool to remove it.

Here is our attempt to change the assembly out using four spring compressors.
Figure 12

Here is our attempt to change the assembly out using four spring compressors. I was not happy with the way the springs sat and could not properly torque everything to specs so I took the assemblies to a shop to swap them out.

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Comments and Suggestions:
RoCkE18 Comments: First of all, i would like to thank you for this article.
It was a good help!

I did this job this weekendand and when i was mounting the 1st shock i realize that maybe i didnt need to dismount the braking parts. When i started to take out the 2nd shock, i try to do it without taking the braking parts... And its possible!

I managed to do the job in half of the time.

Best regards
Bruno Roque
September 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Emec Comments: Need a link for torquing spec :
April 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.


I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Fitz Comments: Hi, I have an 04 530i that is s sitting about two inches lower on the drivers side front then the passenger side and I have tyre puncture warning coming on. How would I know if I need the spring or shock? Or is there something else I should be aware of?
February 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Inspect the coil spring for broken turns of coil. Check the strut bounce and return. best bet is to inspect the entire front end for tightness and adjust your tire pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:30:14 AM